The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Friday, January 06, 2006

“Neethu was murdered by the Evangelist Teacher” says father

12/29/2005 12:30:13 AM HK Correspondent
Haindava Keralam
THRISSUR

Gopi of Pullur, father of seventeen year old Neethu who succumbed to her burns on Dec 13 at the Jubilee Mission Hospital here, has alleged that his daughter was murdered by Rogy, the Christian evangelist class teacher at Chalakkudi Sacred Heart Higher Secondary School.

It was too much for the young girl to bear the constant psychological torture, verbal abuse, physical punishment meted out to her by the heartless teacher Rogy. Because of the continuous mental and physical torture meted out by Rogy that Neethu attempted to commit suicide by pouring kerosene and setting herself ablaze, said Gopi while addressing media persons here. Neethu was hospitalized on Dec 7 with severe burn injuries. Suma, Gopi’s wife was also present during the press meet.

Gopi told media persons that Neethu was quite good in her studies. She scored 376 in SSLC and 567 in the Plus One Examinations. In fact her elder sister discontinued her studies after Plus Two since we were not in a position to send all our three daughters to college, said Gopi. Since we were not financially sound, we were unable to meet the monthly hostel bill of Rs 700. Hence Neethu attended her classes as a day scholar by traveling everyday between Chalakkudi and Pullur, Gopi recounted about the hardship suffered by Neethu.

Gopi, a daily wage earner, said Neethu was quite happy till she came to the Plus Two class headed by Rogy. Because of her all round performance, Neethu was made the leader in her Plus One class. All her woes began with her joining the Plus Two class headed by Rogy. It was during this time that Neethu developed some sort of drowsiness. We took her to the doctor and she was diagnosed with anemic, Gopi said.

Rogy started making fun of Neethu in the harshest of words, according to Gopi and Suma. Rogy alleged in front of all the students in the class that Neethu was coming to the school only with an eye to collect the stipend due to her as a Scheduled Caste student. The worst part of the allegation was that Rogy went to the extent of calling my daughter a thief, said Suma.

Rogy shouted at Neethu for daring to attend the school, said a wailing Suma. The biggest ordeal was the calling of caste names by Rogy, according to Suma. And this hurt my daughter. Many times Neethu told me about this. And she was reluctant to go to the school, said Suma. Gopi was not told about these developments because Suma feared that he may rush to the school and create a scene there.

I myself went to the school and spoke to the sisters and the teacher, said Suma. Neethu needed medical treatment for 36 days because of the frequent bout of giddiness. The school authorities asked me to submit a medical certificate from a government doctor to justify Neethu’s absence for this many days, Suma said.

The submission of medical certificate did not help Neethu to escape the wrath of Rogy. This is a document which could be managed by all and sundry for just Rs 100, Rojy had told Suma. The teacher further alleged that Neethu was only interested in the stipend. My daughter became so nervous because of the torturing meted out by Rogy. The next day she did not go to the class. I got a phone call at the hospital where I work as part-time. It was Rogy who wanted me to bring Neethu at the earliest to the school. I rushed to my house and asked Neethu to get ready to go the school, said Suma.

Suma said though Neethu was reluctant to go to school because of Rogy, she pleaded with her daughter. She went to the bathroom to get changed. After three-four minutes, I heard a shriek and when I rushed to the bathroom what I saw was that my daughter was all ablaze, Suma burst out in tears.

Neethu who was admitted to Irinjallakkuda Cooperative Hospital was later taken to the jubilee Mission Hospital where she succumbed to the burns. The sad thing is that not a single soul from the school turned up to our house on hearing the death of Neethu, Gopi said. Both Gopi and Suma have written to the chief minister and education minister about Neethus suicide. She was forced to take the extreme step Rogy who used to get some sort of pleasure by torturing Neethu, said Gopi. Her parents want the culprits to be punished so that no other students belonging to the Scheduled Caste community will have to face the ordeal suffered by Neethu.

Experts on mind manipulation and psychological torture say that Neetu was subjected to severe psychological torture at the Sacred Heart School by the evangelist Christian teacher. It is true that that conversion-oriented evangelist teachers use psychological pressure to induce anxiety, depression, guilt and helplessness in students. The targeted, innocent students will suffer in torment if one does not convert. Neetu’s case, she was under intense psychological torture with tools and techniques designed to induce her to change her mind and behavior. More alarming is the indifference of the police, feminist organizations, Human Rights Watch and secular leaders. They have shown no interest in supporting the poor family or to take initiatives to stop suicide, ragging and harassment of Hindu students in Christian schools and colleges.

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